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The Treasury Department regularly spied on retired Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn’s financial records and transactions during Barack Obama’s presidency, beginning in December 2015 and continuing well into 2017, Star Newspapers reported, citing claims by a whistleblower.
Neil W. McCabe, a Washington-based national political reporter for The Tennessee Star and The Star-News Network published the exclusive interview on Monday.
“I started seeing things that were not correct, so I did my own little investigation because I wanted to make sure what I was seeing was correct,” she told the newspaper group. “You never want to draw attention to something if there is not anything there.”
The whistleblower claimed that she only saw metadata — names and dates when the former national security adviser’s financial records were accessed.
“I never saw what they saw,” she told the newsgroup, without saying who ‘they’ were.
By March 2016, the whistleblower and a colleague who was on detail to the Treasury Department from the intelligence community said they were convinced that Flynn’s surveillance was not part of any legitimate criminal probe or national security issues, but instead was being tracked for obvious political reasons as part of other illegal activity taking place at the agency.
“When I showed it to her, what she said, ‘Oh, s**t!’ and I knew right then and there that I was right — this is some shady stuff,” said the whistleblower.
She added: “It wasn’t just him. They were targeting other U.S. citizens as well.”
There are only two names that appear on her official whistleblower paperwork, Star Newspapers reported. The second is Paul Manafort, who once served as Trump’s 2016 campaign.
Other names include members of Congress, top 2016 campaign staffers, and members of the president’s family, the whistleblower noted.
“Another thing they would do is take targeted names from a certain database – I cannot name, but you can guess – and they were going over to an unclassified database and they were running those names in the unclassified database,” she added.
That was done, she said, in order to bypass the need to use classified resources to spy on Americans because the entire operation was off the books — meaning it was never authorized through the proper channels or the Justice Department.
“Accessing this information without approved and signed attorney general guidelines would protect U.S. persons constitutional rights and civil liberties,” she said.
It’s important to put all of this in perspective.
A billionaire real estate developer and host of a successful reality TV show at the time, Donald Trump announced his bid for the GOP nomination in June 2015 during a speech and subsequent rally at Trump Tower in New York City.
Flynn met Trump in New York in August 2015, spending 90 minutes with him in a meeting that was only supposed to last for thirty. He left the meeting highly impressed. “I knew he was going to be president of the United States,” Flynn told New Yorker magazine.
In December of that year, Flynn took a paid trip to Moscow, where he dined with President Vladimir Putin at an event for RT, the state-run television network. But it wasn’t to hobnob with the Russian leader; Flynn was invited to speak as head of the Flynn Intel Group Inc., a company he formed after he retired from the Army in 2014. The company provided intelligence services for businesses and governments.
Why did Flynn retire? Because he was fired as the Defense Intelligence Service director by President Obama, who had appointed him.
Why did Obama fire him? Because Flynn was very opposed to the Iran deal Obama was trying to make.
Flynn’s December 2015 trip to Russia came shortly before reports noted that he had become an adviser to the Trump campaign.
The future short-lived national security adviser’s trip to Moscow after his lengthy visit with Trump a few months earlier could have provided the impetus for the Obama administration (and, possibly, the ex-president himself) to order surveillance of Flynn and other Trump officials via a non-traditional channel: The Treasury Department’s Office of Intelligence Analysis.
As for the whistleblower, she said she filed a formal complaint in March 2017, just a couple of months after Trump was inaugurated and not long after Flynn was ousted after being targeted by the FBI.
The complaint was filed with acting Treasury Inspector General Richard Delmar, who still holds the office, but she says he hasn’t followed up after acknowledging receipt of the complaint.
She said she filed a follow-up complaint with the Office of Special Counsel in May 2017, which works with whistleblowers. It’s unclear if that office has followed up.
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